Monday, May 31, 2010

Trimming Our Huge Cherry Tree

Our beautiful shade tree in our backyard

Today I went outside to hang laundry and the cherry tree near the clothes line was shedding millions of blossoms. They were all over everything and getting on the laundry. Well when the clothes are wet those little blossoms stick to them. Needless to say I didn't like this situation. So I mentioned to my husband that I wish he could trim those branches. The branches were spreading right out over the line toward the ground. This tree is huge so there was no way it would miss a branch or two. Next thing I knew........hubby is out there with  the ladder and his chainsaw.

He went up there on the ladder and started cutting it. Wouldn't you know it? The bar of the saw got caught in the groove and was pinched by the branch. He could not move it! Now this is something that happens every now and then when you are cutting wood. But being up in the tree, pretty high up, he could not jack up the branch as he would have done if he was working on the ground. 

Saw gets stuck in the tree!

So he had to figure out what to do so the saw wouldn't fall to the ground when he gets it free. My son came up with the idea of tying the saw with a rope to another branch. Then if it comes free it will just dangle on the rope but not hit the ground. Our saw is new and we did not want to lose it so soon. It is a smaller saw then the one my husband usually uses so that might be a good thing in this instance. 

Then hubby put four bales of hay under the tree just in case it did fall to the ground. But once it was tied by the rope we weren't really too concerned with that happening. My son took a hold of the end of the branch and kept pulling on it..............then we heard a big................C - R - A - C - K!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! That did it! The branch came down! But the saw stayed dangling from the rope!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Yeh, that was what we wanted to happen.

Jeffrey getting ready to push the branch off the saw's bar

Taking down the other branch was no problem at all. That one came down quickly. He then cut a branch of our antique apple tree that has been leaning down toward the ground for years now. It worried me that one day the whole tree would just fall over due to uneven balance. Now our yard looks so different! I like it. It still has lots of shade but now more sunlight can get in there too. 

Branch is down and saw is out!

As you can see in this picture the saw is dangling from the rope. It saved our saw. Now I can hang my laundry without worrying about the blossoms all over the clothes. I appreciate having a husband who can take care of things like this for me!

Copyright © 2010 Kathleen G. Lupole

Thursday, May 27, 2010

The Ludlow Creek Bridge

On the way to our house there is a little bridge going over Ludlow Creek. We live along the Ludlow Creek State Forest in the town of Smithville in upstate New York. The creek runs from Lake Ludlow in the town of McDonough to our little bridge and on to Oxford. The Fingerlakes Trail is alongside the creek for a ways. Not far from our house along the creek is a waterfall and a lean-to built by the Department of Conservation for the Fingerlakes Trail. Hikers stop there and can spend the night if they want right along Ludlow Creek.

The road to my house is barely a road. It is a dirt trail through the state forest. It is a maintained road and is plowed in the winter and the sides of it are mowed in the summer. Our local highway department, after many years of speeding across our little bridge with the snow plow, had ruined the bridge. Now it is being repaired by the county highway department. They are the ones who maintain the bridge. I hear there was trouble between the two highway departments over this little bridge.

So the county highway is going to be working on the bridge. They closed it on May 17th and put up a sign to let people know it would be closed. It is a real  imposition to have this bridge out of use. It makes us have to drive miles out of the way to get where we need to go. It has made it so our mail carrier cannot deliver our mail and we have to pick it up at our post office. I didn't realize how much I needed that little bridge until it was not there. My father-in-law came to visit and he scooted across one of the beams along the side of the bridge! It is up pretty high and I'd be scared to do that myself. and he is 91 years old. Him and my brother-in-law did not want to drive around the circle. So they left their vehicle on the other side of the bridge and walked across the bridge and up to the house.

The county road crew tore the bridge apart and worked on it, maybe two days. Now it is sitting there day after day not being fixed and not able to be used. So I am hoping they remember they took it apart and maybe get back to work on it. It is not like it is never used or only by us. There is a constant amount of traffic lately that comes down Ludlow Road from Lake Ludlow. Then they have to either turn around and go back, or take the long way around, which is past our house on the way toward Oxford.

 You know these little bridges are pretty important when you drive over one every day and then all of a sudden you can't. I am thankful though, that it is being repaired and not just closed down. We need it and it gives our little road character! I for one............miss it!

The barrier is meant to keep people out. I think it has instead made more people stop and get out to look around the bridge and see what is going on. The sign is lit at night and it is a good thing for that. We have many four wheelers on our road at night that used to cross this little bridge. I hope it will be worked on next week at least.

Copyright © 2010 Kathleen G. Lupole

Friday, May 14, 2010

Cash Flow On the Homestead

Adding to your cash flow is the hardest thing to do. But if you find ways to cut your cost of living that should give you a little more cash. Here are some ways I have found to really cut down on cash going out.

One big saving has been having our own energy systemTake your electric bill and add it up for the year. Then multiply it for the amount of years you have lived in your home. I have lived here for almost eleven years now. My electric bill to live here would have been costly. At least $100. a month. This house is old and not insulated so if we were using a furnace that would have been running a lot. Plus, we have two computers and in the past we had the big desktop ones. Now we have three laptops, because my son has been living with us and he has his laptop too.

Our last house was a two bedroom ranch house we rented in 1997-99 and the bill ran approximately $119. a month. So this is not an out of line figure. At $100. a month, the annual amount paid would be $1200. and for 11 years that would come to $13,200. Now it doesn't sound like a lot of money.  But I could have taken that same amount, or got a loan and put in an awesome solar system.  Then pay for it monthly like you do the electric bill. It would be paid for now and from now on our electric would be free. Now that sounds good doesn't it? To eliminate that $100. a month bill. I know! I  know! Most people I know, tell me how cheap their electric bill is and how they just love paying it! That is their choice. Not mine. If it was only $10. a month.............I'd still choose to have my own system. It gives you independence and that is why I chose this lifestyle in the first place! I hate being told what to do...............

Unfortunately this is not our wood pile!

Another way to be independent and add to your cash flow is by providing your own fuel for heating. We use wood and have taken trees down off our small piece of land while we have been clearing it. It was pretty much all woods right up to the house. Firewood is a lot of work and I would never say it wasn't. But if you provide it yourself  then the cost is your hard work and chainsaw costs. I have never figured out what we have saved over the years. There are times when the weather is not cold enough for the wood stove so we use a kerosene heater during those times and try not to use it unless we have to.

One of our raised beds in 2009

A garden saves you so much money! Plus it allows you to eat those vegetables and fruits that are too pricey for your wallet. You can grow whatever you want. Start the seeds early in your house and get a head start on the growing season. Grow as much as you can, and can or freeze it for the winter months. Now this is where you can make a big difference in your cash flow!

By growing your vegetables and fruits you can afford to buy meat from local farmers. Or try to find  a way to buy meat in bulk and it will save more money. You can sometimes make a special deal with a farmer.

Another way I have found to save is by following a low carb diet. I call it a food plan not a diet as it is my way of eating for life. Now most people will say it is an expensive way to eat. But I have found it is exactly the opposite. The reason being that if I live on low carbs, no processed foods and no white flour or sugar or artificial sweeteners.................that saves you A LOT of money right there! Just look in other people's shopping carts and see how much of that stuff is in there. Adds up to a lot of money. I try to buy only some dairy products, fresh meats, some low carb mayonnaise, mustard and ingredients to make my own salad dressings and condiments. Just think how much that saves? It is healthier and makes you feel great as soon as you have been on it the first two weeks. And if you need to lose weight it does that too.

I have been working on buying some of our supplies online. That saves me not only the gas of running around  to stores, but the time. My time is really stretched..............and I work at home! Maybe that is why. I have been finding that ordering supplies from Alice is a good thing! Just fill my cart and order pet foods, personal supplies and household supplies. Free shipping.  I also save money by shopping at Netrition and they only charge $4.95 for whatever size order you have. I buy all my low carb bread mixes, almond meal, etc. there. Very quick shipping for me since they in Albany, NY.  You can find online sites yourself that sell the products you use. In the long run it saves me much money.......puts that savings in my cash flow.

Just search through your budget for things that take your cash and see what you can do to cut those costs. It is very expensive to live now. We are in a major depression and trying to make ends meet is not easy. So I do what I can do. How about you?

Copyright © 2010 Kathleen G. Lupole

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Combining The Homestead & Business Lifestyle

 Georgie Girl, the boss mare

We had a frost last night so it is a good thing I did not try to get my plants in the ground yet. Our days have been cool but sunny. We have our big wood stove going, but keep it pretty much banked back during the day. I hate to use the kerosene heater since that fuel costs us money. This type of weather is tricky because it is not freezing cold during the day and at night it is cold enough to wear warm clothing and use warm snuggly blankets. So you have to have some kind of heat. So our big wood stove can be overkill at times but banked back has been doing a good job. I hate it when the house is cold and everything you touch is cold.

We have a variety of jobs that need to be done on a regular basis out here. Working on my business takes up a good share of my time. I am trying to develop some sort of a schedule. But I get up and there is always something else needs to be done than what I had written on my list to done first. I try to organize myself better but things get in the way. I have been really trying to get rid of all my clutter. I have things I have not used or even looked at in years. So these things need to go!

Since I need to work on the computer for my business daily, I have to take breaks from my household chores and sit down and work a little here. Then I go back to the household jobs. Today I am working on organizing cookbooks in my kitchen. My husband finished the shelf he had made for my cookbooks by adding molding and varnishing it yesterday. So today I am able to put the cookbooks back where they belong. While I do that, I will weed out any that I do not use anymore.

A sample of strings I have for sale

I sell guitar strings online on two websites. One is String Baby and the other one is my original site Larry Gene Music that I put up in 2002. Boy, we have come along way from there! This morning we got up to an international sale on our website. I am so happy to be getting more international sales. A couple of weeks ago we got one from a repeat customer from Paris and today a new customer from Japan. There is a whole international market out there for anyone with an online business. You just have to learn how to handle these sales so they are profitable to your business, but affordable for your international customers. The shipping is what stops most sellers from selling to them. And it also stops the foreign would be customers from buying if your shipping costs are too high. We worked on it to come up with a happy medium so that the shipping cost are not out of sight for the customers.

If you are trying to live independently, the most important part of it is to be able to do all the chores involved. It is pretty hard to do all the gardening and food preserving and fence fixing while having to work on your business or at a job. I get behind all the time, yet I am here at home all day. When I worked out at a regular job it was a nightmare. Could not get anything done here. What I am trying to do in my quest for organizing and automating my home, life and business is to make everything much easier. Automatic!

Copyright © 2010 Kathleen G. Lupole

Sunday, May 09, 2010

Mother's Day Tribute To A Wonderful Mother

My mother in Orlando, FL in 1942

Today is Mother's Day and I am lucky to have a loving grown son who treats me as if every day is Mother's Day. It is nice to know I am appreciated and must have done something right all those years ago in raising him. He did not have an easy time of it with his father and my first husband. But we got through it and still are  very close.

My Mom loved having grandchildren! She just had so much fun with my son when he was born. She did all kind of things with him and even taught him how to swim. I didn't realize when I had my son at a young age my Mother would love my child so much. She only had two children of her own due to health issues. She almost died having me but survived to be a very loving and caring Mother.

My Mother, Hazel Dorothy Neer Dran (1923-2002) and my son, Michael Jeffrey Dier

I lost my Mother in November 2002 and I miss her every day. Things happen in my life and I will wish I could talk to her and tell her about it. The funny thing I remember is her saying to me, "death is so final", because she wanted to tell her Mother or her sister something and could not. Now I feel the same way. She called me every day without fail. Seven o'clock comes and I look at that phone and wish it would ring with her on the other end. Mom was handicapped having suffered with Cushing's Syndrome since 1977. It caused her bones to disintegrate. She had to have her adrenal gland removed and take cortisone for the rest of her life. Eventually she ended up bedridden but at home. My father took good care of her. He rigged up a car horn that she could toot for him if he was outside working in the garden or in the garage. So that solved the problem of him working outside when she might need him inside.

My family, me, Mom, Daddy and my brother, Mickey

I think about her and all that we shared:

She loved to sew and she made all my clothes when I was a teenager. I wanted to be Cher and she made all kinds of bell bottom outfits and custom dresses for me.

She taught me how to drive.

She and I would go shopping at Belair Plaza in Daytona Beach and then would have pizza at Tony's pizza and she would let me play the juke box on the table.

She took me to see Gone With The Wind for the first time at Belair Plaza and it still is one of my favorites.

Shopping, even when she was on crutches, she drove to my home every week and we went to lunch and shopping.

I took her to see the Broadway show, Forty-Second Street, starring Lisa Brown who was one of her favorite actresses from The Guiding Light and As The World Turns.

I took her to see the Broadway show, Cats.

In later years when she was bedridden, we would watch the cooking shows and some of the soaps on tv together.

She loved to crochet and never used patterns. She crocheted over 50 baby sweaters for me to sell in her way to help me out.

She was an artist and shared her talent with her two grandsons.

Mom loved to fish with my father. During our years of living in Crescent City and Flagler Beach, FL we would pack a picnic and go fishing for the day. Beautiful memories for us!

When we lived in Crescent City, FL we used to swim at a beautiful lake, Lake Stella. She would be out in the deep water swimming back and forth without stopping the whole time. Many of the other parents would sit on the dock or on the white sand, but not my parents! They loved the water.

Mom with my brother, Mickey and me in Lake Stella in Cresecent City, FL

Copyright © 2010 Kathleen G. Lupole

Saturday, May 08, 2010

Gardening Season Is Almost Here!

I have been awaiting anxiously the time to plant my garden. My seedlings have all been sprouting and some of them I am transferring into bigger pots today. They have grown too big for their flats. Need room to spread those roots. I will not jump the gun and stick them in the ground too early. It is a good thing too as they are saying we will be having snow showers tomorrow. I know New York weather only too well! I try to be patient as much as I can.

With the prices in the grocery stores for food you have to be crazy not to grow a garden this year. We all need food. You can easily plant some seeds or plants in containers if you are afraid of the effort of putting in a regular garden. It is great if you like certain vegetables that are out of sight price wise. Not to mention the safety issues and of course, taste. Nothing tastes better than a tomato picked from your own plant! I know because I never buy tomatoes in the grocery stores as they have no taste. What are you paying for? Cardboard? Cucumbers are the same. Horrible! Yet the ones I grow in my garden are so good I can eat a whole one like an apple.

My father is the gardener I have learned from. He is still gardening and next Thursday he turns 91! My mother and him always had a garden but it was his baby. He worked it. She just would go out and pick some vegetables for supper. She has been gone now for over seven years and he is still gardening. He is the type of man who needs to keep busy (like my husband).

Memorial Day is the normal planting day around here. So I will work on the plants I keep in containers. I like to grow as much food as I can in every single lick of space there is. Our raised beds hold our rich, black beautiful compost and it is worth having because our plants usually are very strong and productive. There are some plants that I will start from seeds in the ground but I have even started cucumbers and squash inside this year to hope to get a quick start on the garden.

I already have some lettuce and greens growing as they can be started in cool weather. Soon we will be having some tasty salads with them, adding in some wild greens too. Easy to make a big salad with what we have. Not having to worry about the nasty stuff (E-Coli) from the stores is a big relief.

Copyright © 2010 Kathleen G. Lupole

Friday, May 07, 2010

We've Got A Neighbor!

Most of the properties around us are hunting camps surrounded by the state forest. In the beginning when we moved here in 1999, the owners of the camps came here every hunting season. Especially in the fall for deer hunting season. But in recent years, most of the camps stand there empty. Closest to us is a hunting lodge that is owned by a Binghamton lawyer and is frequented by the members who are mostly state troopers and the Binghamton police force. They come up here to practice target shooting.

One summer day, my friend and her new boyfriend came up to spend the day. We had never met her boyfriend before and she brought him up to meet us. He was a Viet Nam era veteran and suffers from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. I did not know this at the time though as we had just met him. We went for a walk and crossed our bridge and was heading toward the woods, when all of a sudden out of the clear blue, someone started firing a gun rapid fire like! Her boyfriend hit the ground so fast! It scared me too as we didn't even know anyone was there. And we just happened to be going for a walk at that moment. I have never had anything ever happen like that again and wonder if they saw us and did it on purpose. Now, nobody hardly ever goes there. I think they all got old.

Anyway, a number of years ago, maybe in 2001 or 2002, someone knocks on our door and introduces himself and his girlfriend and says he bought the property up the road on top of the hill. He wanted to tell us that if we wanted to graze our horses there he was going to fence it in and we could take them up there anytime. So we took them up there a few times. It is a big property and the fenced in area is big and they had room to run. Which them being Thoroughbreds...........they certainly ran! For about an hour, they then stood at the gate wanting to go home. No grazing, no more running. Just looking toward home. We'd put one halter on one horse and then just lead her and the other two would just follow along. Right over the bridge with no problem. When we left once the halter broke and that horse just took off running down that hill and over the bridge with the other two following close behind! Thank God there were no vehicles coming down the road!!!

When we moved here that property had a rental trailer on it and one guy who became our friend lived there with his dog. He moved out in 2006. Now the man who owns it has moved in up there. The decent trailer on his land he had put in for the renter when he first bought the land. The other two trailers were junks and that was what the renter was living in at that time.  Now our neighbor has someone working on taking the junks apart  and removing them for him. I am sure he will fix it up real nice. He has brought his two horses with him and is living there now. Of course, I haven't seen much of him, only when he drives by on his way to town.

I am sure he will love living up there full time as it is certainly beautiful out here. We wake up to the birds singing and neon green grass and trees. So peaceful and quiet..........wouldn't want to be anywhere else in the world.

Copyright © 2010 Kathleen G. Lupole

Tuesday, May 04, 2010

Moving Our Solar Panels To The Barn Roof

When my husband decided it was time to move the solar panels to our barn roof my stomach had that sickening feeling. You know the feeling you have when you  have to do something you dread? Like going to the dentist or having a test? I dreaded him doing this job as I knew he would be doing it alone. Carrying five solar panels up a ladder and onto a barn roof that is pretty high by himself. I dreaded it. Well, he did it yesterday. All but the last panel is on the barn roof now. Today is overcast and now raining so I think he can't finish this job today. I guess I should have known he'd do okay since he built this barn by himself. And that included putting the roof on by himself.

Yesterday was a beautiful day for doing this work.  And I am glad to have them moved. The reason is that we have tracked the sun hitting the barn roof the most of any area of our homestead. We have sun there all year long for the longest part of the day. Unless it is raining or cloudy the sun is hitting that roof. Living in New York means we need to best utilize our sunshine when we get it. New York residents need to have twice the amount of solar panels as other states. Since we have added two new panels to our array and have now moved them onto the barn, we should see an increase in our power.

I am looking forward to getting our solar refrigeration. And once our water system is in place and working, then our washing machine will be usable. I have done without these appliances, but that does not mean I do not want them.....I do! So this is one more step toward our total self-sufficiency. Independence on our own energy system. In the future we will add more panels, more conveniences and be even more independent. I am hoping at some point we can add an electric vehicle to our homestead. Generating our own power from the sun for transportation would be nice indeed!

Copyright © 2010 Kathleen G. Lupole